“The issues plaguing police credibility have nothing to do with the vehicles they’re driving,” CEO Jim Hackett wrote to employees.
Almost immediately in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, scores of companies lined up to declare how woke and socially aware they were and pledged to do whatever it took to prove they were serious about racial justice.
Ford CEO Jim Hackett and President Bill Ford made their commitment to the cause known in a letter written on June 1st to employees. They both stated, among other things, that “this is our moment to lead from the front and fully commit to creating the fair, just and inclusive culture that our employees deserve:”
There are no easy answers. We are not interested in superficial actions. This is our moment to lead from the front and fully commit to creating the fair, just and inclusive culture that our employees deserve.
Today is the start of an even deeper dialogue within Ford on these critical issues. We will be meeting with employees across the company, including engaging with the Ford African Ancestry Network (FAAN).
And while we would like to say that racism has no place in our society, we know that systemic racism still exists despite the progress that has been made. We cannot turn a blind eye to it or accept some sense of “order” that’s based on oppression.
A little over a month later, around 100 Ford Motor Company employees crafted their letter. They asked Hackett and Bill Ford to stop making vehicles for law enforcement officers because “the vehicles that Ford employees design and build have been used as accessories to police brutality and oppression:”
“On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis Police, alongside a Ford Police Interceptor. Days later, police officers drove Ford Police Interceptors into crowds of protesters in New York City and Los Angeles. During these past weeks, our vehicles have been used to deploy chemical weapons banned by the Geneva Convention.
“Throughout our history, the vehicles that Ford employees design and build have been used as accessories to police brutality and oppression. We know that while many join, support, or supply law enforcement with good intentions, these racist policing practices that plague our society are historic and systemic—a history and system perpetuated by Ford for over 70 years—ever since Ford introduced the first ever police package in 1950. As an undeniable part of that history and system, we are long overdue to ‘think and act differently’ on our role in racism.”
The letter writers went on to state the company “cannot claim to support the fight against systemic racism” and still supply vehicles to police officers:
“We cannot claim to support the fight against systemic racism while supplying and supporting the very systems that perpetrate violence against Black Americans… We, the undersigned employees, call for Ford to cease development, production, and sale of all custom police vehicles and products. Our resources can and should be diverted to other forms of first response and public safety.”
The writers reportedly called for action by July 15th. Still, Hackett has already responded to the circulation of the letter by letting employees know that while the company believes in police accountability and that black lives matter, they have no intentions of stopping production of police vehicles:
Second, we also believe the first responders that protect us play an extraordinarily important role in the vitality and safety of our society. Our world wouldn’t function without the bravery and dedication of the good police officers who protect and serve. But safety of community must be inclusive of all members and today, it is not.
It’s not controversial that the Ford Police Interceptor helps officers do their job. The issues plaguing police credibility have nothing to do with the vehicles they’re driving. In fact, as we imagine the future power of our connected vehicles, smarter Ford vehicles can be used to not only improve officers’ ability to protect and serve, but also provide data that can make police safer and more accountable. Just think, dating back to the Model T, Ford has more than 100 years in serving first responders and that leadership over the decades has been earned by co-developing our purpose-built vehicles and technologies with police and emergency agencies to make our vehicles the number one choice.
By taking away our Police Interceptors, we would be doing harm to their safety and making it harder for them to do their job. Again, this is why, given our insights, new capabilities and leadership, I believe these unfortunate circumstances present Ford with an even greater opportunity to not only innovate new solutions but also leverage our unique position to support the dialogue and reform needed to create safer communities for all.
For these reasons we will do both: continue to be a powerful voice for Black Lives Matter, holding ourselves accountable for significant change, while also continuing to help keep communities safe by producing Police Interceptors and partnering with law enforcement in new ways to strongly support the safety for all members of society.
PJ Media’s Bryan Preston summed up the CEO’s response perfectly: “Shorter version: No. We’re not going to stop making police cars. Now get back to work.”
— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —DONATE
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